History of the House, Part 3 (1823-1858)

These are the three properties that were on the corner of Front and Spring Streets owned by Deacon Sherburne Blake and his heirs from 1823-1858.  The one on the left is his "office building," the one on the bottom middle is his dwelling house and the one on the right is a little house or ell on his property.  

On this 1884 map of Exeter I have labeled them 1.) office building, 2.) Blake's dwelling house, 3.) little house or ell to show where they were each moved from (circle) and to (square).

The history of our house is directly linked to the other two houses above because they were all once part of a property on the corner of Spring and Front Streets owned by Deacon Sherburne Blake. All three of these properties were moved to within a block of each other, where they still stand today.

Here are the transactions that brought the big house and the office building to School Street:
  1. November 15, 1873 Henry C. Moses buys a lot on the westerly side of what is now School St. from Josiah Batchelder.
  2. Then the big house and the office building on Front/Spring were purchased by Henry C. Moses from George A. Wentworth in one deed dated October 7, 1874.
  3. In May 4, 1875, Moses buys lot on easterly side of School St. from Josiah Batchelder.

It is clear that the buildings match the architecture of an earlier period than would indicate by their locations now (which would be Victorian), so I inferred from these transactions that the two buildings were moved to their present locations on School Street.

Exactly when our house was built and/or came on the scene is still a mystery though. The reason is that, while our house appears on the 1845 map, it is not possible to know exactly at what point before this it was built unless someone, somewhere, wrote it down and that that information is accessible. So far I have not found anything definitive, but I have some good leads from both documents and physical evidence which I will talk about here.

I don't know yet whether our house was attached to Blake's main house or whether it was a stand-alone structure. I know that what Clark bought in 1858 from Blake's daughter Eleanor was not in the position I would expect if it were part of the ell, although William Perry's noted in his book, Exeter in 1830 that " part of [Blake's house]... was removed to the corner of Union and Garfield Streets." Garfield Street is at the end of our block, so I figure it's close enough to assume it's our house he's talking about. It was bounded 17' 7" along Spring St., then went back 68' to the school house lot behind it. Additionally, our front door, assuming it is original to the house, would probably not have been on an extension (ell) of a bigger, main house.

Boarding Houses

Before there were dorms, towns people took in the boarding students from Phillips Exeter Academy for a few dollars a month. I think it's a good possibility that our house was used as one of these boarding houses. According to Perry's book,  
Deacon Blake had five daughters...— Eleanor, Olive, Dorothy, Shuah, and Abby, all fine women. All married, except Miss Eleanor, an estimable woman, who spent her life in the old house. She always had boarders, principally Academy students.  
The map below, done in 1832, shows the private residences that took in boarding students. Highlighted in yellow is dec Blake's BH (Deacon Blake).

From Laurence M. Crosbie's, The Phillips Exeter Academy A History
For many years the cost of board to students was not much over a dollar a week; and both room and board could be had in private families for less than two dollars a week, often including washing and mending. In 1855 the cost of table board was from $1.30 to $1.50 a week in the boarding houses under the direction of the Academy, and from $2.25 upwards in private families. 

" No scholar shall enjoy the privileges of this institution, who shall board in any family not licensed by the Trustees." — Constitution.

Heads of families, who let rooms to students, are required to maintain good order in their houses, and to report to the instructors any instances of disorderly or immoral conduct that may occur.

They shall also report any student who is absent from his room after ten o'clock in the evening.


They shall also report any student who receives visitors on Sunday.

No person who refuses or neglects to comply with these rules shall be allowed to receive students into his house.

No student is allowed to change his boarding-house without permission.

For the Trustees,

G. L. SOULE, Principal.

My assumption is that either Sherburne Blake built our house from the parts of some other old structure sometime in the 1820's and used it as a boarding house, or that it was built by an earlier owner of the property earlier in the century. It' also possible that it was moved from somewhere else and repurposed. I'm still learning and digging for information that will help me answer the structural questions that may help to point to it's origin.

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